NEW YORK (AP) - Even as he missed weigh-in, eating champion
Takeru Kobayashi was telling media in his native Japan that he
wanted to compete in the Coney Island Fourth of July hot dog
contest. Contestants speculated that the six-time champ would make
a surprise appearance.
And his publicist said Kobayashi planned to attend the annual
Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in the hopes
of putting on a free eating demonstration for the crowd on the
Instead, Kobayashi surprised everyone Sunday by trying to crash
the contest after Joey "Jaws" Chestnut gobbled his way to a
fourth consecutive championship. He jumped onstage, wrestled with
police and was arrested.
"Let him eat! Let him eat!" the crowd chanted as officers
handcuffed the world's No. 3 professional eater, dubbed "The
Kobayashi, 32, did not compete in the Fourth of July event
because he refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating, the
fast food equivalent of the NFL. On his Japanese-language blog, he
said he wanted to be free to enter contests sanctioned by other
But a few days ago, he told Japan's Kyodo News: "I really want
to compete in the (Coney Island) event."
Wearing a black T-shirt that said "Free Kobi," Kobayashi
mingled with the crowd Sunday, standing inside a police-barricaded
pen just under the stage. When the eating ended, he slipped up the
Security officers appeared and tried to usher him off. He
grabbed a metal police barricade with both hands, clutching it
tightly as the officers pulled at him. Finally, they dragged him
down the stairs, with Kobayashi resisting.
He was expected to spend the night in jail awaiting an
appearance in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges of resisting
arrest, trespassing and obstructing governmental administration.
"There's a contract dispute, so they weren't giving him his
freedom," said Kobayashi's interpreter and publicist, Maggie
She said Kobayashi, who moved to New York from Japan in March,
only eats hot dogs when training. Otherwise, she said, "he eats
healthy, stays away from carbs and fat - and from the grease of hot
Chestnut downed 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the contest
televised live on ESPN.
He was disappointed with his performance, despite claiming the
bejeweled, mustard-yellow belt plus a $20,000 purse. The
26-year-old from San Jose, Calif., was aiming for a record 70 dogs
in 10 minutes. Last year, he ate 68 dogs against Kobayashi's 64.
"I was dehydrated going in," he told The Associated Press,
explaining that he did not drink enough liquids the day before
because he was striving for an emptier stomach.
After witnessing the drama involving Kobayashi, Chestnut said,
"I feel bad for him."
As a handcuffed Kobayashi was led from Brooklyn's 60th Precinct
to a waiting cruiser that took him to jail, one Coney Island
resident shouted: "You've got to be kidding! They locked him up?"
Others yelled, "Free Kobi!"